As the world of the internet has grown, both the potential and popularity behind blogging has skyrocketed. As blogging became a growing trend, new genres of bloggers began to appear on the scene. The traveling blogger, the causal blogger, the professional blogger, and so on.
All these bloggers wanted the same thing: an easy way to manage and place content on the web. Thankfully, some rather brilliant people have stepped in and filled the gap.
Over the past few months, the Elegant Themes blog has covered multiple ‘WordPress Versus…’ topics. Today’s post will take a look at the comparison between the self-hosted WordPress.org platform and the free Google blogging platform, Blogger.
Although I now work exclusively with WordPress, the very first blog I ever started was built on Blogger. Needless to say, the platform still holds a small, but meaningful, place in my heart.
The company started out in the late 90’s, and after some up’s and down’s, they were eventually bought out by Google — the rest, as they say, is history. Since that buy out, Blogger quickly rose as one of the most popular blogging platforms on the internet and it continues to be one that many people turn to when looking to start a blog.
But the real question about it should be, is Blogger really the best option? The answer could be yes, or no, but that’s really up to what you need.
Let’s take a look at what that Blogger platform has to offer.
Free To Use
Ah, free — don’t you just love that word? The fact that Blogger is a free platform that takes a few minutes to get started is no doubt a large factor behind its success.
And since Blogger is directly connected to Google, if you currently have a Gmail account (which nearly everyone does nowadays) then you already have a blogger account.
To start a new blog, all you have to do is log into your desired Gmail account, go the Blogger site, and click the orange button that says, “New Blog”.
Simply give your blog a name, pick your .blogspot.com URL (yes, Blogger give blogspot.com domains… strange I know, but whatever) and a template, and you’re good to go!
The Task Of Blogging Is Made Very Simple
Blogger was built with one task in mind: blogging. And they’ve made that task pretty easy. After you take a minute or so to set up your blog, you can dive right in and write your first post.
The options you have to create a post are rather forthright.
For the font, you have your basic web font options: Arial, Helvetica, Georgia, etc. For subheadings, your options are also simple: Heading, Sub-Heading, Minor Heading; adding lists, links, pictures, and video is also pretty simple. As an added bonus, you can also add Labels that are somewhat like WordPress tags, and even schedule your post for a later time.
All of this means that you don’t need to spend a lot of time learning a new system. Just login to your account, write your post, and then share it with the world.
Adsense and Google Plus Is Built Right In
Another nice feature about Blogger is that you can start monetizing your blog from day one — assuming that you have an Adsense account, that is. Even if you don’t have one, setting things up through Blogger is simple, and free.
Additionally, connecting your Google account to your blog is something that is pretty much taken care of. Since Blogger is owned by Google, they’ve made sure that these connections are simple.
Unlike WordPress which uses Widgets to display certain apps in designated areas, Blogger uses what they call, Gadgets, that display buttons or apps in widget-like areas
The only major difference is that you can only use the Gadgets that are given in Blogger, however, they do have the basic Google oriented Gadgets for your Gadget Areas:
- Google Plus Button
- Google Plus Badge
- Adsense Boxes for monetizing
Another plus is that you can you can even add Google Analytics on your Blogger site to really track the traffic and conversion on your site. There are a few more Gadgets that you can choose from, but in all honesty, it’s all very limited.
You’re Going To Look Like Every Other Blogger Site
When it comes to templates, the options given by Blogger are both slim, and frankly, just plain hideous. (*cringe*) You have only seven templates to choose from, and even though each one has only few different design options, they’re all a bit clunky looking and not that pleasing to look at.
Now don’t get me wrong — the drag and drop options for the Blogger Layout, and the ability to easily change the width of the blog using slider options is very nice. Outside of that, though, making customizations to your blog in order to make it stand above the rest is going to be near impossible if you don’t know HTML and CSS.
The Advanced Options in the Blogger Template Designer (pictured above) area allow you to make changes to the template that you chose. Although this area does give you some nice mouse-click control — perfect for someone who has no web design knowledge — you’ll still be stuck with a template layout that always looks the same as everyone else.
There are sites out there that offer free Blogger Templates to help give you a blog that looks a bit more unique, but it can be tricky to upload them. And if your blog has some content on it already, there is a chance that a new template from one of those sites will wipe everything clean. (Ouch!)
Blogger has a lot to offer: it’s free, it’s easy to use, and you can start a blog in under five minutes — two thumbs up on that front. But, that still doesn’t change the fact that it is hampered by a ton of limitations that make it just plain unsuitable for a business driven website.
No Comment Moderation. Comments can be a huge part of blog’s success, or its failure. With Blogger, there is no area in your dashboard to control your comments. The only options you do have are to either allow the comments on you blog, or not. And if you want to reply to comments, you’ll have to go to each individual page or post to do so. If your site gains some traction or popularity, this task will quickly become time consuming.
Only 1GB Worth Of Picture Storage. Yes, you read that right: 1 stinkin’ gigabyte worth of photos. Yikes! The Blogger Help page does state that “if you’ve upgraded to Google+, your photos will be stored in Google+ Photos, where you have 15GB of storage space shared with Gmail and Drive”, but that’s still not very much.
The only good thing about using Google Drive is that only photos that are larger than 2048 x 2048 count towards that limit; therefore, if you stick to using photos that are under that size, then you can technically have as many pictures as you like without any worries. Unless of course, Google decides to change their rules down the road — which they always do — and then you’ll be in a bit of a predicament.
Page Size Limit Set At 1MB. Just one more major limitation to deal with. Do you know how many megabytes are in a gigabyte? Only a thousand, and you only get 1 measly little megabyte for each of your pages. A single decent sized picture could easily eat up a quarter of that megabyte…
The other thing that Blogger mentions, is that even though “individual posts do not have a specific size limit… very large posts may run you up against the page size limit.” So, essentially, what they’re getting at is that your posts shouldn’t be more than 1MB either. This limitation is a huge drawback and one that really shouldn’t be ignored.
Ran By Google, Owned By Google
Now for the biggest downside of all. All Blogger sites are on Google servers and not something that can be self-hosted. As that is the case, Google has the final say and overall control over your blog. What does that mean?
It means that they can flip the switch on your blog at any moment with no warning whatsoever. The blog you build on Blogger will never really be yours, and that lack of ownership is perhaps the biggest reason why to not use the platform. Though the chance of having you site shut down is slim, the fact that someone else holds the key to your digital kingdom is a bit unnerving, to say the least.
Obviously, Blogger can be a great option for a lot of people, but if you plan to build a sustainable online business (i.e. affiliate or niche site) than this platform would be a pretty shaky foundation to build it on, and it should be avoided at all costs.
From both a user and technical standpoint, WordPress is the easiest Content Management System (CMS) to learn and use. What is more, its innate functions can be expanded and built upon to create something even more complex but equally amazing.
There’s certainly a lot to love about WordPress, but it’s not for everyone. If you’re trying to decide what blogging platform and have WordPress in the mix, then be sure you know exactly what you’re getting in to.
Your Site Is Yours
The biggest advantage to using WordPress over a platform like Blogger is that you truly own all the rights to your website — assuming nothing on your site is copied from someone else’s work, that is. (*wink*) Although your site is technically hosted on a server that you really can’t own outright, control over everything else that happens on your blog is in your hands. That stamp of ownership is generally enough for most to choose WordPress for their blog.
Easily Take Your Site To The Next Level
One reason for WordPress’ profound success is no doubt linked to the potential that the platform offers. You can use it to build a simple blog, or to build a highly profitable business. And even if you start out with zero expectations of your blog, you can easily take it to the next level if you realize that you’re sitting on a digital gold mine of your own making.
You can grow an email list, promote affiliate links or place ads on your site for profit, use WordPress plugins and services to supercharge your site, and more. Really, when you build a site on WordPress, the only limit you have is the one you set.
Takes Time To Learn
WordPress is a full fledged Content Management System; therefore, it’s features are much more extensive than Blogger. As that is the case, there is going to be more to learn.
If you’ve never built a site on your own, you’ll quickly realize how time can get away from you as you do your best to learn everything entailed in running a WordPress powered blog.
You need to pick a host provider, learn to install WordPress, spend the time deciding on a theme, and then you have to learn how actually to use WordPress. Don’t get me wrong — it’s worth learning, but some may not like the hassle.
Demands A Lot Of Upkeep
Just like a car needs you to spend the time maintaining it, your website needs your attention when it comes to keeping it running. There are back-ups, WordPress updates, theme and plugin updates, keeping the comments on your blog nice and tidy — and that doesn’t even begin to cover the time it takes to write and edit posts.
It Can Get Expensive
Even though WordPress offers large advantages, the truth is that it’s going to cost you money. The cheapest of hosting can easily start at a hundred dollars per year, and truthfully, you’ll end likely end up spending a lot more.
This can certainly be money well spent, but it may be out of budget for some. For a nice overview of what it can cost to run a WordPress site, check out the post below:
Things Can Still Go Wrong
WordPress is great, but it is by no means perfect. Updates can wipe a site clean; hackers can virtually bomb your site; host providers can get hacked.
You can put as much time and money in to your site as humanly possible, but that doesn’t eliminate the danger of it completely going up in smoke. There are ways, of course, to make sure that total loss of your site doesn’t happen — the biggest one being that you should always, always, always back up your site on a regular basis.
To be entirely honest, it is rather difficult to compare Blogger and WordPress. Both have blogging at the forefront, but they’re two very different types of blogging platforms.
With Blogger, simple blogging as its core function, but WordPress is a powerful Content Management System that happens to include blogging as a main feature.
If I had to break it down, Blogger is perfect for the casual blogger who simply wants a creative writing outlet and who’s not looking to turn their blog into something more substantial. It’s a pretty easy system to learn, and it lets people share posts and pictures on something with their name attached to it. For this kind of blogger, WordPress would be an expensive version to free — although, I wouldn’t exactly call it a waste of money.
Many bloggers start with small expectations when it comes to their blog, but when they realize the potential within their blog, they quickly realize that they need something that offers them more control than what Blogger does.
Starting out with WordPress not only gives you that ownership that is so lacking with Blogger, but also sets you on a foundation that you can easily build on if the situation calls for it.
On the flip side, though, WordPress has a substantial amount of features and functions that Blogger doesn’t offer, which means that new users will have to learn the ropes, and this may not be something they’re interested in doing. Plus, it can be costly. After you pay for hosting, your URL, a theme, and other WordPress powered services, the price tag can be rather high for someone who never plans to see a return on their investment.
Each platform has their pros and cons, but at the end of the day, WordPress seems the most logical choice; however, Blogger can still be the right choice — it all depends on you.
As someone who has used both platforms extensively, I will always recommend WordPress over any other blogging platform, but again, the choice is yours.
If you’re trying to decide on a blogging platform, or another platform to build your website on, then be sure to take a look at the comparisons that we have up on the Elegant Themes blog:
- WordPress vs. Ghost – Which Blogging Platform Is Right For You?
- Recommending WordPress vs. Squarespace For Your Clients: The Questions You Should Be Asking
- WordPress vs Tumblr: Comparing Two Of The Most Popular Blogging Platforms
- WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com: What Features Are You Missing?
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